I recently sat down with Debbie Herbert and asked her about her debut book Siren's Secret. Debbie writes paranormal romance novels reflecting her belief that love, like magic, casts it's own spell.
Tell us a little about Siren's Secret, the first book of your Dark Sea Series.
It's about Mermaids, Murder, and Mayhem. The story centers on a secret shape-shifting mermaid clan that lives in an Alabama bayou. Shelly Connors's worlds—on land and in the sea—are turned upside down when an evening swim turns into a nightmare. On a sweltering night deep in the bayou, the mystical mermaid witnesses a horrifying act. With a monstrous killer now hot on her trail, her life and the lives of her kin are in jeopardy. Terrified of becoming the next victim, Shelly has no choice but to turn to Sheriff Tillman Angier. Tillman has had his intense gray eyes on the sultry honey-haired beauty for a while. The feelings are mutual…and impossible to ignore. But he's determined to solve the murders, and he knows Shelly's hiding something. Can she trust him with her deepest secret?
I love this cover! What did you think about it when you saw it?
I actually found out about my cover through Twitter! One of the editorial assistants at Harlequin tweeted about what an amazing cover I had. I tweeted her back and discovered Harlequin had actually blogged about making the cover. I was so excited when I saw it! It took my breath away. I am still thrilled with the underwater shots!
Can you share a little about your background as a writer?
Like most writers, I was a bookworm growing up. I always had my nose in a book. In college, I was an English major and I always wanted to be a writer. I wrote a lot of angst-filled poems and short stories as a teenager, but then I got married and had children and my dream got pushed aside. When my children got a little older, I got back into it and tried to write a YA. But, I wrote about 150 pages and the book went nowhere. I had no idea about story plots and character arcs. I struggled with it. I then wrote a series of poems about famous women. I sent it out and a small press in Texas told me that they were going to publish it. Then I never heard from them. I finally contacted them and they told me that they had changed management and decided not to take me on. That really shut me down for a long time. I really felt stupid. I had told everyone I was being published and then it didn't happen.
So now you are published! How did you find your agent?
It was really important to me to find someone that was interested in Siren's Secret, as well as other projects I was working on. I wanted to find an agent that believed in my writing period and gets me and my voice. I believe your voice translates into whatever genre you are writing. I probably should not admit it, but I had over 340 rejections before finding my agent, Victoria Lea with the Natalia Aponte Agency. She was a new agent that was interested in fantasy and paranormal. When we spoke over the telephone, we really hit it off and she was interested in my other manuscripts as well.
Throughout this whole process, what has been most surprising?
I think what's been most surprising is that you think after you get an agent and an editor, you've got it made. But you don't have it made! You never have it made in this industry. There will always be new challenges. I'm trying to learn how to revise right now, which is a whole different skill set. I'm trying to learn how to market myself. Its all very time consuming. There is a lot more that goes into it than just writing.
What about revisions have you found to be difficult?
I think I get too carried away with subplots and secondary characters. For Harlequin, the focus is more on the romantic relationships. So, its been a little bit of a struggle for me to stay focused on the romantic element and not go all over the place.
What advice would you give other writers starting out?
I think if you are a newbie, join a critique group or a writers' group and learn about the craft. Making connections with other people is invaluable. I was spinning my wheels until I did that.
Aside from Siren's Secret, what else do you have going on?
I'm currently working on revisions for Book Two of the Dark Sea Series: Siren's Treasure, which will be out next fall. I also just learned to Book Three - Lilly's story - has been picked up by my editor.
Here's an excerpt from Siren's Secret:
Tillman took her hand and led her closer to the water.
Her sudden pleasure at his touch disappeared. Being in a pool was fine, but if her feet mixed with the alchemy of the sea, webs formed between her toes. All it took was an unexpected splash around the knees and both legs would fuse into a single tail, iridescent scales would burst forth, coating human skin, completing the metamorphosis from legs to fins.
She hung back. "Let's walk here where the sand is dry and warm."
Tillman pulled her to his side and she snuggled up against his hard body, her head against his chest. The fingers of his right hand traced the outline of a wicked scar on her shoulder. A nasty souvenir from an encounter two years ago when she'd swum too close to a charter fishing boat and a hook had sunk into her flesh.
"Where did this scar come from?"
"Childhood accident from swimming too close to a pier." Only a half lie. She hung her head, wondering what he would make of a close examination of her body.
He tilted her chin up with a firm hand. "I'm too curious," he said gruffly. "Another occupational hazard. Great for my job, not so much with people."
Then his lips were upon hers, hot, demanding and probing. The sweet, fierce hotness made her toes curl into the warm sand. The pounding of the waves matched the pounding in her blood.
To celebrate the release of Debbie's book, I am giving away a copy of Debbie's book to TWO commenters (U.S. residents only). To enter your chance to win, please leave a comment along with your email address. Contest closes at midnight.